Federal gas tax most likely to continue

Canadian cities are breathing a sigh of relief knowing gas tax funds from the federal government will most likely continue to flow.

Cities like Williams Lake are breathing a sigh of relief to know that gas tax funds from the federal government will most likely continue to flow.

Presently the city receives $483,000 from the fund annually.

Originally the funding was scheduled to end, but on March 21 the federal government introduced an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in parliament to include keeping it going.

There will also be an increase to the amount of the payments, with indexing of two per cent each year.

“This is good news for municipalities,” said Mayor Kerry Cook. “This will be the first time the tax is going to be indexed.” She also pointed to new flexibility in the use of the funding as another boon for communities. “It can be used for recreation and roads,” Cook said.

The scope of eligible products has also been broadened to include regional airports, short line rail, disaster mitigation, broad banding conductivity, brown field redevelopment, tourism and culture. In 2013, gas tax funds will be used for part of the bike trail on the South Lakeside widening project, some will be used for Phase 5 of the River Valley sewer infrastructure, and for the overpass over Mackenzie Avenue, as a few examples. Generally, it can also be used for projects that promote clean air and clean water.

Between 2005 and 2011, Williams Lake has received a total of $1,938,462 from gas tax funds. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities noted in it latest newsletter it anticipates the bill will likely become law before parliament rises for summer recess on June 21. “The federal  GTF is much more than another infrastructure program,” FCM noted. “It is a permanent federal transfer that provides predictable, long-term funding for municipalities to build and revitalize public infrastructure – our roads and bridges as well as water, energy, public transit and solid waste management systems.”